Luca Parmitano is an astronaut. He is the youngest astronaut to go to International Space Station. He was given duty to do a spacewalk to repair a few things.
But that was not a normal day. There was something in his space suit. He felt there was liquid in his headpiece; mainly on back of the head. He was not sure what it was; when he reported this to the command in Houston.
He even tasted few drops to make sure if it was water ; it tasted metallic. Then suddenly liquid reached his nostrils and cut his communications from the space station.
With luck he reached the hatch. When he opened his halmet, water flew out. He survived; but it was close.
In his spacewalk one weak earlier; he had noted water droplets in his helmet. He and Crew in Houston had regarded it as a leak in water bottle without digging deep.
But it was due to leakage from fan pump separator. I don’t know what that means but it was part of the spacesuit.
So engineers in the Houston overlooked possible new reasons for a new observation and attributed this to their most visible belief. ( Availability bias)
They didn’t even think for a second that they may not know few of the things and they are not infinite in their intelligence.
Thay failed to rethink.
But there was one physicist who did the opposite. He had his reputation in the line. He was at centre stage of a big event of astronomists. In an important conference.
He was about to share an astounding discovery of a planet around a collapsed star; which is called PULSAR.
His research had shown a planet around a Pulsar; which was never believed earlier by physicists.
But he caught his mistake. In his calculations he had assumed orbit of earth around Sun to be circular in stead of elliptical.
When he corrected himself new planet vanished away.
He didn’t try to act smart or superhuman. He walked on podium and expected his mistake and retreated his paper from conference.
He got standing ovation. For saying that be was wrong thus time. For accepting with humility that he doesn’t know everything and he needed to work more.
We need more of such people.
Professor Andrew Lyne is a genius.
Everytime their is anomaly in observations try to find new insights.
We all eat pizza all the time. In good times and also in the bad times. When she doesn’t want to cook or you don’t want to cook yourself.
Pizza Hut was found in Michigan in 1958 and Domino’s in Michigan in 1960.
They slowly gained customer base with regular innovations and efforts.
In 2010s Domino’s invested heavily in digital infrastructure and slowly overtook pizza hut in terms of revenues.
It invested in digital media for ordering and delivering it’s pizza. It used data gathered this way to its advantage. It gathered ideas from customer feedbacks. It made its digital data driven network.
It won the battle from pizza hut and little outlets.
But then came new startups.
Last mile meal delivery apps.
Ubereats. Zomato. Swiggy. Doordash.
They delivered all types of food that may be ordered daily; as compared to pizza which is eaten once in a while.
And whoosh there is a new battle at the hands.
Hence companies have to adapt continuosly to emerging rapid competition.
They should try to prepare vertically integrated digital data network that benefits from client’s data with time. And hope to become one of the two main competitors in a particular segment of business.
Inspiration – Everybody wants to rule the world by R Wang.
Duopoly in business means that in every business sector; there are two dominant companies who share majority of the revenues.
One is leader with 60-70% marketshare.
Second is a company with 25-30% share.
All other players fight for remaining 20-25% share.
Internet search market has Google and Baidu.
Social media has Facebook and Twitter.
Software App market has Apple and Google.
Retail has Amazon and flipkart.
MasterCard and Visa.
Boeing and Airbus.
Coke and Pepsi.
This pattern seems to emerge in every market.
This is due to winner take it all mechanism that works to slowly focus earnings in one or two bigger pots.
This however may be counterproductive for economy as a whole and for average customer. With time big companies get extremely strong and excercise great control over their earning margins and bargaining power of customers falls.
Here policy makers need to step in to stop unfair practices that sprout as power of giant the companies rise.
A modern human being is obsessed about profits and bank balances and hence, easily forgets about real wealth, that a man can desire and achieve.
A healthy body with a healthy mind is the most precious thing one can achieve.
Everyday, every human on the face of the earth does a thing which is most undervalued and neglected; inspite of being a absolute healer.
Sleep is an automatic and useless thing till we are unable to sleep even after trying or time doesn’t permit for it.
In this article let’s see what is the latest scientific knowledge about sleep and how it can help us .
Every living being on earth has a circadian rythm, which is internal clock set by the Sun over the millennia.
It was shown in plants in 1729. And after two hundred years it was shown in humans too.
It decides our waking and sleeping times. It is controlled by suprachiasmatic nucleus situated just above the point where both optic nerves cross each other.
It controls various rythms in body like temperature, metabolic rate, sugar levels, adrenal hormones and other vital functions.
Circadian rhythm varies in different people. Around 40% are morning type, who go to bed early and get up early in the morning.
30% are night types who sleep late and hence get up late. It includes the author of this article.
30% fall somewhere in between.
There are two main things that control sleeping habits of humans.
1. Circadian rhythm controlled by suprachiasmatic nucleus. It signals release of Melantonin which is a hormone secreted by pineal gland. It signals as a starting signal to the person that dark has arrived and you should try to sleep. It is a signal but it doesn’t help in induction of the process of sleep.
2. Sleep pressure – During wakefulness adenosine accumulates in the brain neurons which creates a pressure on the person to sleep. When we sleep it is cleared and sleep pressure falls to normal
Most important thing is that these two systems work independent of each other.
Types of sleep.
Let’s now come to sleep. It is mainly of two types depending on whether your eyes move automatically in your orbits or not at a particular point while you are sleeping..
1. NREM is non REM sleep in which eyeballs show only slow rythmic movements.
2. REM – Rapid eye movement sleep – in it eyes dart fast in the orbits.
Individual pecularities of both types of sleep.
NREM has 4 stages going from light ( stage 1) to stage 4 ( very deep).
It is believed to be a phase of consolidation of new information and facts. It declutters unwanted and less useful information from the neural connections.
It dominates first half of the night.
It is main sleep after a long period of sleep deprivation.
EEG in it is slow wave.
During this dreaming occurs. Muscles loose tone. Eyes dart fast. It is believed to be responsible for integration of new data with other data and old information available in brain’s neural connections.
It is hence place for creativity and innovation as it connects different fields of information which are unrelated.
It is important for brain development of infants and kids. Hence REM sleep is more in early age and reduces as we age.
Quality and quantity of sleep reduces as we age.
Factors affecting sleep.
1. Caffeine – It competes with adenosine binding sites in brain and reduces sleep pressure. It’s half life is 6-7 hours. So avoid consuming caffeine during second half of the day.
2. Alcohol – Fragments sleep and disrupts REM sleep. Restorative power of sleep falls.
3. Temperature – Fall in the core temperature of the body helps in inducing sleep. Shower helps. Cool room helps. Excercise just before sleeping disrupts this effect.
4 Jet lag – Confuses circadian rhythm.
Areas of sleep generation.
Mid frontal cortex just above nasal bridge is site of the origin of sleep. And it spreads backwards towards occipital lobe. These are the areas which are earliest to degenerate as we age.
What happens if we sleep less.
Decreased memory, retention and reproduction of the facts. Increased chances of diabetes, infections and cancers. Increased emotional liability and obesity. Increase incidence of psychiatric illness.
Increased incidence of accidents.
Do sleeping pills help.
No . They produce unnatural sleep. They have addictive potential. Rebound insomnia can occur. People taking pills have increased mortality over next two and half years.
Normal length of sleep
Generally eight hours of good quality of sleep is recommended. It follows J curve like water consumption and food intake. After 9 hours, benefits of sleep start to reduce again.
New enemy of sleep
Blue LED light reduces Melantonin secretion by 50%. It also reduces REM sleep. Hence reading a paperback is better than reading on an ipad near the bedtime.
At last what helps us to sleep
1. Stay away from caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
2. Stick to a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed at same time and get up at same time.
3. Excercise but not close to the time of sleeping.
4. Avoid day naps after 3 pm.
5. Avoid medicines that disrupt sleep.
6. Avoid large meals near bedtime.
7. Wind down before sleeping. Do something that relaxes you.
8. Dark room. Cold room. Gadget free room. Keep the clock away. Comfortable bedding.
9. Taking Bath before sleep can help lower your body temperature.
10. Get cozy with sunlight. Get one hour sunlight exposure in morning and dark indoors in the evening.
11. Don’t stay in bed if you are not sleeping. Do some relaxing stuff like reading a paperback. And return to the bed when you feel sleepy.
He researched on agricultural plants and animals. He wanted to find, effect of body size on metabolic rate of the organisms, a thing that was useful in cattle industry.
Cattle industry owners saw potential in his research, as he could predict how fat their cattle will grow and how much bounty they can get by serving them to carnivorous masses.
Working over this, he stumbled upon a pattern, which is called kleiber law.
He noticed that as organisms grow in size, they slow down.
A rat has faster beating heart; as compared to an elephant. A bull’s heart beats slower than a cat, when he munches his grass.
He applied his mathematics knowledge, to analyse it and he found that it follows, “negative quarter power scaling.”
That means something; that blasts mind of every guy, who didn’t like maths at the school.
But, we can only know that if we take mass of an organism and do its square root and do square root of result obtained again; we will get approximate idea of its metabolism. Metabolism is 3/4 th power of its mass.
That means we do sqaure root twice.
By these ratios, we can predict relative metabolism of two animal species.
For example, if we take a cow and a rat. Let’s assume if cow is x times heavier than it; then cow’s heart will beat x times slower than rat and it will live roughly x times longer.
Scientist Geoffrey west took it further, when he applied this law to non living things like cities, creativity and ideas.
It applied well to cities when we saw cable length, petrol stations, factories etc.
But when he applied it to Idea generation and innovation it was not applicable.
As size of cities increased, number of ideas generated increased exponentially.
That is why cities serve as centres of growth and innovation.
As different ideas collide; they generates new combinations.
Hence, although kleiber’s law can help in comparison of heart rates and life-span of different species, it doesn’t apply everywhere as a basic law of energy distribution in nature.
Let’s stop here. I don’t see too many fans of mathematics, who scroll on social media.
Inspiration – Where the good ideas come from Steven Johnson.
Right from the time, when we wriggled out of the sea water and started infiltrating all over this planet; we always needed fiction to survive.
We needed myths like Gods, states and religion.
Man needed stories to stick to. We needed groups to be part of and we needed feeling of, “us and them” to feel purpose in our life.
Then ideologies corrupted our minds. Some followed communism; which raised right questions but provided few solutions.
Few followed capitalism; that solved many problems but gave birth to extreme inequality and ecological disturbance.
Communism still holds firm in many countries; especially in Eastern parts of the globe.
Communism is basically,” from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs.”
In this all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to his ability and needs.
Communism is still deeply ingrained inside every inch of capitalism and we don’t even observe it.
It is necessary for capitalism to flourish and spread.
In the house joint family members share their possessions with each other. They earn them by capitlistic market and then put to use based on communist principles.
When we get out of house; we ask strangers for directions free of cost. We may get shelter under strangers umbrella. Somebody may tell you that you forgot to remove stand of your bike, without charging money.
In office, your senior colleague may answer your queries or act as a mentor free of cost.
Now see Facebook and Instagram. How much money they would earn if people didn’t share their pictures and art free of cost.
Would Amazon feel the same, if reviewers didn’t post product reviews for free on it.
So, capitalism may boast of anything but it is nothing without this daily communism.
Elinor Ostrom took this idea to her heart and studied how humans can judiciously share common resources without need of a state or autocracy to intervene.
This concept of commons need to reach more people and should be recognised for its vital role.
Her studies got Elinor Ostrom; Nobel prize in 2009 but still capitalism with its bright lights is outshining the garden of commons.